Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in New York

Who can request that a will be read?

My family member died a few months ago and there has been a major bloodbath about his assets. His wife (2nd marriage)is still alive and her family member is claiming that the will left all assets to her so the will doesn't need to be read into public record. I have reason to believe that isn't true. Is there any way to request that the will be read even though I am not an executor or even a close blood relation? Thank you.

Asked on 11/16/03, 8:28 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Walter LeVine Walter D. LeVine, Esq.

Re: Who can request that a will be read?

Unless all assets were registered in a way that the Will is not needed (e.g., assets are registered jointly with right of survivorship, or they have a named beneficiary such as an insurance policy) a Will must be probated to authorize an estate representative. If assets are personal property (clothing, jewelry, cars) which are not registered jointly, a Will probate or other proceeding must be initiated. Once probated, it becomes a public document and anyone can go to the Surrogate's ofice to see and read it. Only potential heirs can contest a proceeding. Someone should check with the probate court in the county where the decedent was a resident to see if anything has been done, either a Will probate or an adminstration application. If there was an administration (usually done where there is no Will) the widow is the first eligible to qualify, but must give notice to other heirs. It is possible that she might have taken the position there was no Will, so she could make an intestacy claim, so this should be checked. If there was a Will, who has it? Can a copy be gotten from the attorney who prepared it? There are alot of questions and minimal information has been given to provide a complete answer. If you'd like, have an heir call me at 973-377-3313 and we can discuss it.

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Answered on 11/17/03, 4:44 pm
Arnold Nager Arnold H. Nager, Esquire

Re: Who can request that a will be read?

Heirs at law, ie:, those who would inherit if there was no will, are entitled to Notice of Probate.

However, if there are no assets in the estate, because everything was in Joint ownership or in a Trust, then the will might not be probated.

Check with the Surrogate's Court in the County where the deceased resided at death to see if a probate proceeding was initiated. If so, the will is on file.

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Answered on 11/16/03, 9:16 pm
Daniel Clement Law Offices of Daniel Clement

Re: Who can request that a will be read?

If the decedent left and estate, the will need be probated. If he did not have a will, the estate is administered.

Daniel Clement

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Answered on 11/17/03, 2:34 pm

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